María Alejandrina Coates

Through a year-long residency hosted by SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Centre), curator María Alejandrina Coates will research and design a program for artists of colour working at the interstices of computer programming, art, and activism. Based on Tania Bruguera’s manifesto on ‘Arte Útil (Useful Art), which proposes a genre of useful art that has an application grounded in functionality within society and applies ‘usefulness’ as a system of interpretation], this initiative will depart from the traditional engagements between art and networked systems found in the genres of net art and post-internet art to examine both the degree of usefulness in art-making and in digital applications, as well as the historical inequalities that determine the capacities of people of colour to use and program with digital technologies.

As markets are flooded with data-harvesting smart devices that extend the “Internet of Things,” usefulness is now determined for users by standard protocols and algorithms in cheap, pre-programmed devices. As ubiquitous consumer objects like vehicles and home appliances are animated with connectivity within capitalist paradigms, the question of use becomes the central tenet of criticality and subversion. How can artists begin to reclaim and reposition the use of these objects/images as a form of counter-culture? Maria’s research will culminate in an invitation to artists to consider the architectural imperatives of software, applications and devices that shape our culture and economy through a series educational workshops that will be facilitated by SAVAC. To culminate the residency, Maria will commission artists to create artworks resulting from the workshops. SAVAC will mentor her throughout this process and co-produce the exhibition.



2 December 2018

María Alejandrina Coates is a Uruguayan-born, Ontario-based media arts curator. Her research interests encompass technology, feminism and socially engaged art practices. Her curated exhibitions include Terraforming, presented by the South Asian Visual Arts Centre and Trinity Square Video (Toronto); Voz-a-Voz at YYZ Artists’ Outlet (Toronto); and Feelings, presented as part of the aluCine Latin Film and Media Arts Festival (Toronto). Coates received a bachelor’s degree from the University of British Columbia and a master’s degree in Art History and Curatorial Studies from York University (Toronto). She was previously held the position of Curator at e-fagia organization and is currently the Development Manager for the Pinnguaq Association.

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